To begin the lesson today, and set the stage for the next three lessons, I ask students to turn and talk about the prompt "What is the most important thing you have learned about light energy, and why?" This question is used to propel the students into recalling all they have learned and then to try and assess each fact's importance to the concept of light energy.
This partnership impressed me so much with the depth of their conversation. We use accountable talk moves all of the time and they were able to discuss with each other without prompts using these sentence stems. They were also able to debate and then come to an agreement through reasoning. I was able to prompt them to go more deeply into their explanations and then asked them to defend their opinions with a "why" statement. Just that 1.5 minutes was an excellent opportunity for me to assess not only their content knowledge, but also their ability to apply that knowledge.
To begin my mini lesson, I will compliment the students on the facts I heard them explaining and how they worked to listen to each other's opinions in a respectful and open-minded manner. Discussing these types of behaviors, in my mind, is more important than the content itself, as these are what grow scientists, and learners in general.
I will then explain that they will be playing a game called Roll of the Dice, in order to review concepts that we have worked with during this unit. I will explain that they will need to draw on all of their teamwork skills, as well as their light energy knowledge. As they play this game, students will have to figure out a way to communicate what they know and understand about each question to their group. In doing this, they must go more deeply into the knowledge and find a way to make it make sense. Remember, those that speak, learn!
Next, I will ask a few students to join me at the front, so we can model a round of Roll of the Dice. During this phase, I will model listening to my partner's responses, agreeing to, disagreeing with, and adding to, their thoughts. I will also intentionally make a mistake on my turn so the students can discuss what they might say to me and how they might say it.
All of this is to model and build expectations for scientific debate during the review.
As the student's played their games, I instructed them to roll again if they roll the same number twice. However, if someone else in their group rolls the same number, they should attempt to answer it in a different way, or use a different model. This forces deeper thinking and possibly debate.
As I circulate and listen in, I will be paying attention to opportunities to spark discussion within the groups an re-teach on the spot.
I was pleased with this group for a few reasons. I was also able to push the student answering the prompt about what he needed to know and do. Just asking this simple question helped him organize this thinking and prepare his response (drawing). I also liked how the team began giving their input and confirmation right away without being prompted. The responder made a comment that he actually disagreed with his own drawing, so one of the team members visually checked for him and they all agreed it was correct.
This group was struggling with explaining the concept of refraction, although they knew they understood what an optical illusion was. I was able to discuss with them looking back in their notebook to find helpful information while guiding them to a correct definition. The next time someone rolls that question's number, I am sure their conversation will be more smooth and possibly more deeply defined.
This team of scientists were working to explain how light can reflect, or refraction when leaving one material to another. If you listen in, they had the same thoughts, but explained them differently. This is one of the reasons I love this game so much and use it in all subjects. The students are engaged in the content and able to not only express their thinking, but also hear various ways to consider the information.
This was a real re-teaching moment. When I approached this group, one of the students said, "I already know the answer to number 6! So when we began talking about it, I realized no one in the group really had the right meaning. This was my chance to talk it through with them and redirect their thinking. I also was able to detect misconceptions and confusions over terms. On a paper/pencil assessment, I would have never known this!
To close, I asked students discuss as a team what they thought the hardest and easiest questions were and why. I then had them find a partner in the room that was not in their group to share these responses with.
This type of wrap up allows students to reflect on their learning during the session and glean information from other group's discussions.